Sunday, April 18, 2010

Step by Step

It's spring at last, and a real pleasure to see the world in new clean colors once again.

I've been working on a fresh new painting and thought you might like to come along.  To celebrate clear blue skies and trees budding I started a 30 x 40" painting of my favorite tree, the River Willow.  At least that's what I call them. 
This type of tree is a bit gangly, with willowy branches that grow outward like the fingers from a hand.  Small leaves shimmer with each small breeze.

I've stained the canvas with a thin orange mix of cad orange and yellow ochre. This serves two purposes: 1) it gives a warm glow to the subsequent layers of paint, and 2) gets the canvas dirty so I'm not faced with a blank white stare.  That clean canvas is too  much like starting a term paper in my senior year of highschool.  Yike.
The tree form is painted very loosely in a thin mix of cerulean blue and cad red.  I'm trying to imagine that these marks will remind me of the cooler parts of the tree, the shadow side of leaf clusters and branches.  Or maybe I just like the color.

I spend quite awhile working back an forth with greens and blues to create
the feeling of the fullness of fresh leaves.  After awhile I find that I'm a bit lost and go back to reinforce the limbs.  At this point each mark I make is a discovery rather than a preconceived plan.  Probably not the smartest way to work.

Every now and then it's not a bad idea to check a painting in progress in a mirror.  Seeing a fresh image helps circumvent the brain's propensity to "know" what the marks are communicating, especially when there isn't a definite plan in place.  One of these days I gotta make a plan.

This is a closeup of the middle tree area.  I'm really enjoying the dashes of paint that read tree/foliage/sky when I step back.  Touches of rich blue speak of shadows and orange slashes tell the story of sunlight - at least in my book.

I'm probably 6 hours into this painting, and there's alot I like.  Alot I'm wondering about, too. It's a good time to set it aside, go do some laundry, plant a few tomatoes, go for a walk.  I need a fresh perspective, no pun intended.  I'll lean it against the wall in my studio, upside down (side-stepping the old brain again) and see what I see when I look at it with a fresh eye next week. 

My plan is to share with you a fabulous, fresh, exciting oil painting in my next post.  Or a cautionary tale.  Stay tuned.

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